Judges ~ Chapter Seventeen
Read: Judges 17:1-13
"The man Micah had a shrine,
and made an ephod and household idols;
and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
In those days there was no king in Israel;
everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
(Judges 17:5, 6)
The final chapters of the Book of Judges make up two appendixes (Chaps. 17, 18 and Chaps, 19-21). The events described in these five chapters took place earlier in the period of the judges and show how truly wicked the people had become in the time when Israel had no king. It was a time of terrible apostasy and moral decline that set the wheels in motion for a three-centuries long cycle of apostasy-oppression-judgment-repentance-and deliverance. God mercifully raised up judges for His disobedient and apathetic people to purge them of their idolatry, break the yoke of oppression, and restore the nation to pure worship. Within the family of Micah, we see the tragic beginnings of the spiritual and moral decline of Israel in their adoption of the idol worship of the Canaanites, and their vain attempt to marry their idolatry with the true worship of Jehovah. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). In the first few verses it is clear that the breakdown began in the family - the foundation of society. Instead of honoring his mother, Micah stole from her; and instead of seeking the Lord in prayer, Micah's mother opened her mouth to curse the thief, not realizing it was her own son who committed the crime. Because of superstitious beliefs, Micah feared his mother's curse, so he confessed to the crime and returned the stolen money. His mother counteracted the curse with a blessing and they both agreed to use the money to make an image to add to their collection of household idols. "Thus he returned the silver to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the silversmith, and he made it into a carved image and a molded image; and they were in the house of Micah" (Judges 17:4). Israel was strictly forbidden from creating any idol or image that substituted for God; they were to worship and obey the only living God exclusively (Exodus 20:3, 4). The period of the judges shows the internal breakdown of society in Israel, and these chapters in particular show how bad things had become. With utter disregard to the Lords' commands, Micah set up a shrine in his house and imitated the priestly function of the tabernacle by making his own ephod and consecrating his own son as a priest. This spirit of individualism is prevalent today. In our modern society, people follow after the desires of their own heart and look to self for their moral compass, unconcerned that they are headed towards destruction. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The wicked think they are going the right way, but they are on the wrong road which leads to death. As God's royal priesthood, may we lead the way in wisdom, humbly submitting to the Lord and seeking His counsel in all that we do. May we be proactive about the things we let settle into our heart through our eyes, ears, and other senses, feasting daily upon His Word, so we will be full of the life of Christ and His power to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11)
"There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way of death."
Judges 17:12, 13
"So Micah consecrated the Levite,
and the young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah.
Then Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me,
since I have a Levite as priest!"
(Judges 17:12, 13)
The spiritual decline in Israel affected the entire worshiping community, of which the tabernacle and Levitical priesthood were at the center. The people, like Micah's mother, were giving their money to the production of idols, rather than dedicating it to the true ministry of the work of God. As a result, the Levitical priesthood was suffering. One Levite in particular, in desperation to find work and a place to live, disregarded the cities which the Lord had established as places of ministry for the Levites, and chose to do what was right in his own eyes instead (vv. 7-9). "So the children of Israel gave to the Levites from their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their common-lands...All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty-eight cities with their common-lands" (Joshua 21:3, 41). He had been corrupted by the same spirit of individualism as the others and was willing to offer himself as a priest-for-hire. Micah was certainly willing to oblige him. "Micah said to him, "Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year a suit of clothes, and your sustenance." So the Levite went in" (Judges 17:10). Micah thought he could legitimize his shrine by having a Levite serve him as priest there. But the Levite was not a true shepherd; he was willing to hire himself out and serve a man and his idols, rather than the living God. He was called by God to care for the tabernacle, assist the priests, and instruct the people in the Law, but he was interested in his own comfort rather than the spiritual health of the nation (Numbers 3:6-8). Micah did not have authority to consecrate the Levite to be his priest. Sadly, Micah thought he had found favor with God, even though he was violated the Lord's commands. "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!" (v. 13b). How often do we make our plans and ask God to put His stamp of approval on them, rather than first seeking the will and mind of God in His Word and submitting with a heart of obedience to do all that He has said? Micah wanted to have the outward appearance of doing the right things spiritually, but his heart was far from the one, true living God. Let us pray for the cloud of apathy to be lifted and for first love devotion and obedience to be awakened in the hearts of all God's children. May we return to our True Husband with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, so that He will provide for us faithful and devoted leaders after His own heart, true shepherds who will watch over and care for His people and feed them with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:14, 15). "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden" (Isaiah 29:13, 14).
"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other."